WaPo Addresses the Real Issue with TIEAs

July 8th, 2009

The Washington Post published a fantastic article today which finally addresses the fact that TIEA agreements, as stipulated by the OECD standards, do very little to crackdown on tax evasion.  From the Post:

In an interview this week, a top Swiss official cited the recently negotiated treaty amendment as evidence that Switzerland is moving toward greater openness. Doris Leuthard, Switzerland’s vice president and economic minister, emphasized that in the future the treaty amendment now awaiting ratification would give the United States access to information in cases of tax evasion, which are not covered by an existing treaty between the two countries.

But Leuthard also said that under the treaty amendment, the United States would have to know the names of suspected tax evaders to obtain information about their Swiss accounts.

“This is basic, basic information they will need to give us,” Leuthard said.

Jack Blum, a lawyer who specializes in international tax and money-laundering matters, said the treaty amendment boils down to this: “If you have the information, we’ll give it to you.”

The main value of the agreement is that “it gives everybody the ability to say we signed an agreement,” Blum said, but “I don’t think that qualifies as solving the problem.”

Exactly!  Up until now, the news media has simply taken the politicians statements on face value – assuming that these TIEAs would solve the problem.  But the point remains, had a TIEA been in place last year, nothing would have changed in the UBS case.  The Swiss would still be refusing to turn over the account information. This is what we’ve been pointing out for months.  It’s nice to see we’re finally being heard.

Written by Clark Gascoigne

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